Weekend Round-Up #42

"The Age" this weekend doesn't cover much in the way of Australian literature - either fiction or non-fiction: the only book I can find in the Review pages is Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of the Raunch Culture, which is reviewed by Sophie Cunningham.

"Levy sets out to describe and analyse what happens when you combine feminist notions of empowerment, consumer culture and the old-fashioned objectification of women. The result is raunch culture: the mainstreaming of an aesthetic based on strippers and porn, and a sexuality based on performance."

Those aspects of male behaviour which were despised by women of my generation now seem to have been taken up by a younger set. Still: "The book is an important and engagingly written beginning to what will be a noisy, but necessary argument. "'It can be fun to feel exceptional - to be the loophole woman . . . but if you are the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is that women are inferior, you haven't made any progress.'"

Short notices are given to: Rubdown by Leigh Redhead: "The recent onslaught of banal chick-lit has driven me into the arms of crime and I must say I'm much happier there. Particularly with Leigh Redhead's protagonist, private investigator Simone Kirsch. No coyness here, no drivelling about marrying Mr Right and getting into size eight Lisa Ho jeans"; Shadows of War by Ryoko Adachi and Andrew McKay: "Together they interviewed 40-odd people and sent questionnaires to 180 more about their experiences of the Japanese in World War II and their current attitude to their former enemy"; Overland: The Years of Unleavened Bread, Again edited by Nathan Hollier; Phallic Panic by Barbara Creed: "Creed's readings of these outrageous texts [horror novels and movies] are lucid and well-written but beneath her orderly theoretical procedures you can feel the intoxication with the terrible beauty of horror cinema: putting down this book I could feel a Freddy Krueger marathon coming on".

"The Weekend Australian" does somewhat better on the Australian front but, as usual, keeps the bulk of the book reviews to its printed version.

Arabella Edge, whose previous book was The Company about the wreck of the Batavia off the west coast of Australia in 1629, returns with The God of Spring, about the shipwreck of the Medusa off the west coast of Africa in 1816. This was the wreck that inspired Theodore Gericault to paint his masterpiece The Raft of the Medusa. "What really seems to be going on in The God of Spring is the problem of retelling...The author is retelling Gericault's story, and he is retelling in paint the story of the poor souls who survived. The survivors are retelling their own story, each with different motivations. Not everyone wants the story to equal the truth." Which probably gives some hint as to the problems the reviewer finds with the book: "This is a ripping yarn but, although the prose never lets up the predominant colour is purple and the characterisation is flat. It is a historical novel that leaves you craving a history book."

Gerald Murnane's new book Invisible Yet Enduring Lilacs is reviewed by Christpher Bantick: "This is a book of quiet wisdom and generous heart, although many will still identify with Murnane when he says that 'writing never explains anything for me - it only shows me how stupendously complicated everything is.'"

In "The Sydney Morning Herald", Peter Christoff is wildly enthusiatic about Tim Flannery's latest The Weather Changers:

"His skills as a writer and ability to stir up public debate are widely recognised and, here, keenly deployed. Like Jared Diamond and Stephen Jay Gould, he has the ability, rare in Australia, to take complex ideas and - seemingly effortlessly - make them accessible. This is his most powerfully engaged book and contains some of his finest prose. Employing a broad vision of geological time, Flannery explains the mechanisms that have driven the planet's climate. He brings to life the world that laid down our store of fossil fuels just as effectively as he popularises the theories of Milankovitch, a relatively obscure but brilliant theorist of the Earth's ice ages.

"This book captures your imagination through its extraordinary range of argument, its vivid imagery, its wealth of research, quick wit and richness of detail. It succeeds where equally worthy but more prosaic recent books have failed. Given the span of issues - the origins of fossil fuels and the composition of our atmosphere; theories of ice ages past, the possibilities of a new ice age and the potential sources of climate catastrophe; the extinction of mammals in the New Guinea highlands; the future of the Great Barrier Reef; geosequestration and emissions trading; the future of hydrogen power, geothermal power, wind power and much more - you need to read it carefully, twice."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 24, 2005 9:31 AM.

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